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Fall in Hawaii: Good News for Bargain Seekers

Hawaii is one of the more volatile destinations pricewise, ricocheting between affordable and prohibitive on a fairly regular basis. And it works for the destination, allowing the islands to maintain a certain cachet of exclusivity while also periodically opening the door for price-minded travelers. But that bounce between extremes usually occurs over seasons, not within a few weeks for the same travel period.

Last month, it seemed we were squarely in pricey territory. A friend of mine who grew up in Hawaii and still returns for a visit every December mentioned she might not make her annual trip because airfare prices were unusually high. Around that same time, I looked into doing a round-up of good air-and-hotel offers to Hawaii, and discovered the deals worth discussing were few and far between.

It seemed that Hawaii bargain seekers were out of luck. But in September, a funny thing happened. Hawaii started to get buzz as a bargain. It made Hotwire’s Travel Savings Indicator list, with Kailua Kona showing a four perfect air price drop year-over-year and Honolulu coming in with a 53 percent drop in year-over-year car rental prices. Meanwhile, Travel-Ticker called it out as a great bargain for fall citing a shoulder season airfare price difference of $250 round-trip.

So I followed the trail to find out if this bargain buzz translated to bookable good prices for fall trips to Hawaii. What I found left me pleasantly surprised: Dig a bit and you’ll be rewarded with discounts. Here are some of the best offers I found:

  • SmarterTravel airfare editor Patricia Magana called out Alaska’s latest sale (available for trips into December booked by September 27) as offering “solid savings,” noting that in many cases prices are even lower than advertised. Sample prices included $374 round-trip (not including taxes and fees) between San Jose, California, and Kahului.
  • Pleasant Holidays currently has air-and-hotel packages starting at $445 for three nights. When I priced out an early December weekend trip between San Francisco and Honolulu with accommodations at the Maile Sky Court in central Waikiki, I found a total price of $537 per person, including taxes and fees. Pleasant Holidays also has air-and-hotel packages at more upscale properties such as the Halekulani on Oahu and the Fairmont Kea Lani Maui, with overall savings worth a second look.
  • Liberty Travel has a long list of discounted multi-night hotel stays with added perks such as hotel transfers, lei greeting, and daily breakfast. At press-time, prices were starting at $185 for three nights.
  • maintains a database of current deals, many of them air-and-hotel packages.

Have you scored a good deal to Hawaii this fall?

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